Hope Publications is proud to partner with Dr. Jan George to make available the new Knowing the Scriptures Bible Study Series from Sacred Heart Productions!
Dr. George, it’s a pleasure to meet you and introduce you to our readers. Where are you from, and what is your profession?
I’m a fifth-generation resident of North Dakota, a state I love. I’ve spent most of my adult life as a teacher, first of English Literature and Composition at the secondary level in Omaha Public Schools (NE), then, after completing two more degrees, as a professor at Moorhead State University (MN). Finally, after completing Master’s degrees in Theological Studies (University of Dallas-Irving, TX) and Educational Administration (North Dakota State University), in 1992 I left university teaching to study and teach the Book of all books, the Bible. In 2007 I founded Sacred Heart Productions, a non-profit Bible Study program at the service of the Gospel and the Church’s mission to evangelize.
What spurred your interest in teaching Scripture?
During my years teaching literature, I became increasingly aware of the need to know and understand Divine Revelation better in order to grasp more fully the allusions to Scripture in classic literature and to assess the merits of a particular piece of writing in terms of its perennial truth or value. After all, every drama, novel, short story or poem is an attempt to present what that author believes to be true, good and beautiful, or what, for example, love, compassion, mercy or justice look like—or should look like. Good books are supposed to help us understand the human condition within a framework of hope and become better human beings. The longer I taught literature the more I wanted to teach Sacred Scripture, whose author is God Himself.
How did Sacred Heart Productions come about?
Within weeks after I completed my Theology degree, a group of people approached me and asked if I would consider leading a Catholic Bible Study, since there wasn’t one in the area at that time. That was in 1996. I knew there was a real hunger to study Scripture because several hundred people registered to take the classes over the next 10 years. I taught wherever a pastor would give me a room to meet with people.
By 2007 we had completed a reading of the whole Bible, but I felt the Lord prompting me to begin again, this time with the New Testament books, writing study guides for them, recording the teachings, and creating a website so others could also benefit from a guided study of Scripture. With this purpose in mind, Knowing the Scriptures Bible Study was produced under the name Sacred Heart Productions, whose mission is “to proclaim Christ and His love for His Church.” My chief concern was to present a Scripture study that faithfully transmits the sacred deposit of our Catholic faith as handed down through Sacred Tradition. There are now ten books in the series:
Who can best benefit from your books?
Anyone who wants to grow in knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures can benefit from Knowing the Scriptures Bible Study, even if a person or group undertakes only one of the ten series in the program. Each study guide stands on its own as a scriptural resource and means of spiritual growth.
The format is very easy to follow. For example, The Gospel of Saint John study guide covers the Fourth Gospel in 14 lessons. The lessons can also be downloaded and printed out for free at www.sacredheartproductions.org. Short lists of relevant secondary readings from the Old and New Testaments are provided (in the book and online) for each lesson, as well as relevant paragraphs from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, to help one answer the questions about the primary text. All the lessons have corresponding chapters in the study guide that give summary answers to the questions. The website also has recorded lectures available for free.
What do you see as one of the best assets of the program?
The fact that this apostolate was founded on a commitment to be faithful to the teachings and doctrines of the Catholic Church. This should give reassurance to anyone wanting to study and better understand the Sacred Text as handed down to us through the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I would encourage others to consider forming their own study group, with friends, family, or co-workers. The program is also a great resource as a parish Bible Study or part of an Adult Education program.